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April 2022

The Private Collection of David M. and Cecile Draime

Image of one corner of the Davis Gallery where a sculpture and six paintings are displayed as part of the Draime Collection exhibition

The private art collection of D. Max and Cecile Draime now on view at The Butler Institute of American Art includes many of the biggest names in world art, including choice works by American masters. Among the American stars are two members of the New York School, Robert Motherwell, and William Baziotes. Their art can be seen as highly charged abstractions that helped to define the American style of artmaking after the Second World War. Both men had participated in the Federal Art Project of the WPA before turning their attention toward emotion-based painting that became known as Abstract Expressionism.


Baziotes’ paintings often include organic shapes that appear to be floating in a void. Motherwell depends upon heavy applications of paint accompanied by intentional splashing and a distinctive black shape which dominates the rectangular canvas or board. One can also find in Motherwell’s color choice of dominant black, brown, and cream is somewhat reminiscent of the color markings of a variety of bulls. Motherwell’s work is often said to pay tribute to Spanish culture and the bullring, which is such an important element of that culture.


A hidden gem in the Draime Collection, installed in the second-level galleries of the Butler, is a classic painting by the Depression Era painter, Reginald Marsh, whose Walking Girl is so very typical of this influential artist and teacher. Completed in 1949, the Marsh painting, with its rich earth tones, offers a wonderful view of a favorite subject of so many artists of the period, the female form in motion.


The post-world-war American art, as seen in the Draime collection, would ultimately impact European art in a big way. Remember that for generations, the opposite had been true, when Americans looked to Europe for inspiration. This distinguished collection speaks volumes on the success of American art and artists at mid-century.


Dr. Louis Zona

Executive Director/Chief Curator

The Butler Institute of American Art